Sunday, June 11, 2017

Birth of a Pumpkin Patch

When I start planning my vegetable garden early in the year, it is mostly based on growing food that I will actually eat. In my process, I review what grew well in previous years, I consider what I really liked eating, I look back at my notes to see what I can do differently to help those plants that did not do all that well and flip through the catalogs, websites and blogs for inspiration. 

Going through that process, I have introduced carrots to my garden. Kale is very sexy right now, and grows well in the spring here, so I have added that. I also added what I would call exotic lettuce mix for my daily salads. I love eating zucchini and summer squash but the leaf mold in my humid climate is a huge pain so that is sadly off my list.

Clockwise upper left: Pumpkin and beans in background; my mix of mix of compost, peat and vermiculite; pumpkins and beans; pumpkin growing. Repurposed edging created the raised bed.
But I felt like I had a boring list of what I ALWAYS grow. Stuff like green beans, wax beans, cherry tomatoes, herbs, arugula, radish, all of the same stuff that I have had some success with. Old reliable!

And then the idea of pumpkins popped into my head. After doing a little research I learned that I could grow them successfully in my region on the country. I scouted out a sunny, more out-of-the-way spot in the yard to keep husband happy for the raised bed. I repurposed some edging bricks that were not being used, bought a mix of compost, peat and vermiculite, and got the bed ready. 

Two varieties are growing-Jacky’s and Cinderella-seeds that I got at a seed swap in February. Three plants went in the ground on May 16. I started the seeds indoors to get a jump on the growing season. Ironically, two random plants that I think are pumpkins have sprouted in my back flower bed, the result of a pumpkin from last fall that I had a decoration. The squirrels had done a number on it so I smashed it open for the birds and squirrels to eat and then I threw the shell on the flower bed to decompose over the winter. Viola, two plants have sprouted. 

I also planted Lemon Queen sunflowers, French marigold, Autumn Beauty sunflowers on the edges. A stem of one of the pumpkins looked like it was rotting so I covered that whole section of the stem with dirt to try to save it. Because it is going to take a while for the pumpkin plants to fill the space, I snuck in a crop of beans. So far everything is doing really well. I think it worked, we shall see.

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